The Class 8 truck market is officially on an ordering hot streak.
With more build slots for 2023 becoming available, ACT Research and FTR have reported preliminary Class 8 orders for October of 42,500 and 43,200 units, respectively. These totals are down slightly from September's all-time record but are more than double the next highest order month of the year. These last two months are the first time since January to March 2021 that Class 8 orders surpassed 40,000 units.
FTR says the month was up 77 percent from October 2021, adding Class 8 orders now total 271,000 units for the last 12 months.
FTR says the second big month in a row continues to solidify the notion there remains a tremendous amount of pent-up replacement demand. Many fleets have been limited in replacing aging equipment and are eager to snap up build slots that are becoming available.
"OEMs are now filling build slots well into Q2 and the early part of Q3 2023," says Charles Roth, FTR commercial vehicle analyst. "Component shortages continue to be a week-to-week issue; however, the overall sentiment from manufacturers is optimistic that improvements will be made in the coming months and throughout the first half of next year."
He adds, "October was the turning point for the Class 8 market. While we face headwinds in the freight market, overall fleet sentiment remains optimistic. While some OEMs have indicated they have implemented allocation plans for dealers, the retail channel is another segment of the market that has yet to be able to maintain sufficient levels of inventory due to the limited availability of supply."
ACT Vice President and Senior Analyst Eric Crawford states the strength in orders "reflects OEMs having opened their order boards for 2023 more broadly, and ongoing pent-up demand, with tailwinds from strong carrier profitability and elevated fleet age proving resilient."
Crawford says ACT continues to expect a freight recession, and an eventual economic recession, but OEMs at this point "have clear visibility to a strong first half of 2023 (barring any unforeseen cataclysmic events).”
Roth also notes after two "extremely strong months of net orders, there is the potential we see a gradual decrease month over month in net orders as we close out the year."
In the medium-duty space, ACT Research estimates Class 5-7 orders in October of 23,400 units.
"Medium-duty demand was solid, albeit against somewhat challenging comps. Over the past 12 months, the medium-duty market has seen 234,200 orders booked," says Crawford.